Signorelli’s Man on a Ladder Acquired by the National Gallery

Man on a Ladder, painted by Luca Signorelli who is considered to be one of the most important Italian Renaissance painters, has been allocated to the National Gallery under the Acceptance-in-Lieu scheme.

Man on a Ladder, Luca Signorelli, 1504-1505. (c)National Gallery, London. 

Man on a Ladder was originally part of a altarpiece that depicted the Lamentation at the Foot of the Cross, which was commissioned in 1504 for the church of Sant’Agostino in Matelica, a town in central Italy.

The large panel was later divided into separate pieces for sale to different purchasers, with Man on a Ladder being one of the six known fragments of the altarpiece. Meanwhile, the other remaining parts are housed in museums and collections around the world, such as   the Museo Civico, Bologna, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and private collections in Genoa, Rome and England.

The full composition of the Lamentation at the Foot of the Cross showed the dead Christ at the foot of the cross, mourned by his mother and his followers. The haloed head of Saint John the Evangelist is just visible at the lower edge of Man on a Ladder.

This latest acquisition joins the eight other paintings in the National Gallery credited to Signorelli, as well as being the only part of the fragment of the original altarpiece on display in a public collection.

Talking about the new addition to the gallery’s collection, National Gallery Director, Dr Gabriele Finaldi said : “Thanks to the allocation to the National Gallery of ‘Man on a Ladder’ through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, the public can now see the full range of Signorelli’s artistic achievement on show in Trafalgar Square.”

Man on a Ladder is now on display in Gallery 60 of the Sainsbury Wing, hanging alongside other Signorelli paintings in the collection such as The Adoration of the Shepherds and The Holy Family.


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